How should parents raise children, and how should schools educate children? Why are we attracted to things that are forbidden? What is time? How can we understand God, or the nature of evil? What is true friendship? To answer these questions, Professors Cook and Herzman look to the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo.
Over the course of 24 fascinating lectures, you'll study this great book's staggering influence on Christianity and Western civilization, seeing how it provided a source of inspiration for such noted thinkers and writers as Petrarch, Dante, and Martin Luther. Even though the Confessions is more than 1,500 years old, it still speaks to us and has the capacity to change our lives.
The professors trace the narrative of Augustine's early life and the key events that led to his Christian conversion at age 31. In a succession of stories that are as powerful as any in world literature, Augustine seeks to understand the same issues in his life that many people try to understand in theirs, arriving at profound conclusions that offer stunning insight into our psychology and morality and challenge us to become wiser and better people.
This course is a superb springboard and companion guide to your reading and rereading of one of history's singular books: one that will challenge and stimulate your mind and provide a framework through which to find true understanding, value, and meaning in your life.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
I was hooked from the very start. There's no doubt the fascinating and highly intelligent St Augustine, through sheer hard thinking, can enlighten us all. Brilliantly presented. I want to go back to the beginning and listen to it all over again immediately. Thank you Ron and Bill!
"An Excellent Overview!"
I listened to this alongside an audible edition of Augustine's Confessions in preparation for teaching this text at the undergraduate level. I was a bit worried about the team teaching approach at first, as both Herzman and Cook interject on each lecture, but I found they did a marvelous job of bouncing thoughts off of each other and furthering discussion. I have listened to five or so "Great Courses" on audible and this has been my favorite thus far.
Firstly I need to disagree with one of the other reviewers regarding having two people give the lecture. Of course this is personal preference, but Herzman and Cook make a great "tag team". It breaks up what could be monotony with different voices, comments, to some extent style, and yet it does not - in my opinion - break up the compelling flow of the narrative.
The voices are clear and easily understandable, and most importantly, this is a true lecture, not someone reading a book. It is dynamic, has the odd pauses and corrections (the wrong word is said and it is then corrected), making it "real".
Their insights into Augustine are hugely interesting. I had read the Confessions and had to say I was not understanding what all the fuss was about. However, with the insights provided here, I will go back and re-read. And, it is a great price. I have the monthly subscription with Audible and this lecture was one credit.
Five out of five, ten out of ten.
"Perfect for the Self-Motivated Learner for Life"
This stands unique from my other audible purchases in that it serves as a companion to the text(I bought the Oxford classic from amazon). It is a fantastic companion which has enriched a work that is nearly peerless in it's original capacity to enrich.
From Algerian farm to the imperial court of Milan, from nobody to the dominant thinker of the world's dominant religion-a Bishop then fully respected and accepted by the secular philisophical community so 1600 years later. The force of St. Augustine's words has run relentlessly with no end in site. An intellectual Gladiator, only more grand and more important than any arena spectacle.
The lecturers pop with energy, seem genuinely inspired by each other, and I could not help but catch their enthusiasm.
The beauty of his writings concerning his time of conversion is not lost on those reading for more secular or generally spiritual reasons. Fantastic, moving.
"Outstanding Lectures Bring So Much to Light"
I was skeptical at first whether having two lecturers would work well. Fortunately Prof. Herzman and Prof. Cook complemented each other perfectly. One could tell there were a few places where their views differed a bit, but they these tensions were used to increase understanding, as opposed to confuse the issue. The lectures were pithy, well organized, and communicated A LOT of information. Relative to other "Great Courses" lectures to which I have listened, I think this series held more information per lecture than most.
Well, this question is a bit odd when the "story" is a lecture series about a book, but I was very appreciative of the effort the lecturers spent in clearly explaining the social context of Augustine's writing and the significance the material had not only within Augustine's _Confessions_ but in a broader perspective. Their personal examples illustrating how they experience similar events/thoughts/feelings helped me connect to Augustine's writing and made my response to the material that much stronger.
The section dealing with addiction and compulsion was very strong. The lecturers did A TERRIFIC JOB talking about the addictions to alcohol, sex, and violence of Augustine's mother, Augustine himself, and Augustine's friend, and illustrating Augustine's attitude towards explaining such addictions and overcoming them. As a father, I also found the sections discussing Books 1 through 3 really moving. Augustine is right about the need to train children properly, and the lecturers did an excellent job identifying and explaining his ideas.
"Not what I expected"
Read the book.
Is this a test? The course compares Confessions to Dante's Inferno, Thomas Merton's Seven Story Mountain, and others.
I have enjoyed other Great Courses by Prof. William R. Cook. He does a great job. Prof. Ronald B. Herzman adds tremendous knowledge of the subject, unique insights, and thought-provoking comments. Unfortunately, Prof. Herzman adds them in a nasal voice at a tome evoking barbed wire on a slate blackboard. Can technicians mask (soften) his voice?
Not the Augustine you thought you knew!
Listeners should know that this course virtually demands that one read the book BEFORE listening to this course.
"Could have been better"
These two erudite professors reminded me of "Click and Clack" from NPR radio. They bounced all over the chapters and would leave anyone who had actually read St. Augustine wondering what they were talking about. The beauty of Saint Augustine is his use of Latin and intense spirituality in the way he wrote - which comes across even in translation. Click and Clack hardly read any of the original but spent most of the time passing back and forth between their interpretations of what was happening, often repeating each other. I found this distracting. I would suggest actually reading the Confession first, then maybe using this course to enhance your knowledge.
These profs do a superb job in this course, as they also do with Dante's "The Divine Comedy" course. Highly recommended!
As a history and philosophy major, I found this course to be very satisfying. It is historically informed and, while the professors are historians, they give great philosophical insights into the narrative of the Confessions. I can also say as one who wrote a lot about Augustine in my college work that this course is well informed and accessible at the same time.
Like coming to the end of the Confessions only to be ready to begin again, I am ready to listen to this course again after finishing it.
"fascinating and easy to digest"
there is a real skill in discussing complex ideas in a simple, accessible way - but without simplifying them. lecturers are on the money, provocative, relatable, and really enjoyable!
"good solid introduction and overview"
I like this work very much. It was helpful in opening up the Confessions to me. I I like both professors and their contributions. It comes recommended.
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